It’s Our Birthday

Marxism Today was launched on August 22nd, 2010, that makes this week our first anniversary. We turn 1 year old today, and begin our second season.

A review of our first season:
15 Episodes
23 Posts on this blog
2,238 views of this blog
19 Videos (some episodes are more than one video long)
180 Video channel subscribers
6,834 Video views

We’ve addressed many topics: exploitation, dialectics, materialism, alienation, and more.

If I could pick a theme to sum-up the episodes from our first season, I’d call them “Marxist standards.”

Right now my goal is to make season two geared toward modern day issues and how we can use Marxism to approach them. Of course the episodes are not planned out and we may end up taking a different direction – only time will tell.

Over the past year our video format has changed twice. First we had just a static image for the entire video – which didn’t add much. Then we moved toward a combo of words and images – in a rather crude fashion. Currently we use a power point style presentation that provides slides throughout the video – this could still change, because I don’t think it’s the perfect format for us, but I don’t know what else is.

Finally I’d like to thank all of the people who have worked with me to put this together, along with those who have inspired me to dive into this work, and also those who have visited, listened, and commented. Knowing my work has helped others understand something, or has inspired debate and discussion is a great reward, so thank you.

 

-Red Wagner

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About marxismpodcast

Marxism Today is podcast series designed for beginners and newbies to Marxist theory. The podcast will introduce you to certain topics and ideas central to Marxism and it will show you how Marxist theory can be applied to specific issues in order to understand them.
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7 Responses to It’s Our Birthday

  1. bubbamuntzer says:

    Dear Mr. Wagneer,

    I composed this and intended to email it but in going back to your web site I see only the comment function and it’s just as well I enter it there, where perhaps someone else might find it interesting, too.

    I discovered your podcast not long ago and have listened to what back episodes I could download and to the new ones that have come out since. I am enjoying them, and I think you are providing a very valuable service by making Marxism understandable to the layman. I drive a truck and have actually come to look forward to having long uninterrupted stretches of driving so I can delve into my podcasts. I listen to mainly Pacifica radio shows, plus some others I have been able to find, and now yours, and I have come to look forward to your new episodes.

    My impetus for writing is to ask about something you said in your recent podcast about value, where you discuss labor creating value versus desire creating value.

    This raised the question to me about scarcity as a factor in value.

    It has occurred to me that perhaps scarcity is included in one of the two ways of looking at value you discussed, and that to talk about it was beyond the scope of your discussion.

    In any event, something occurred to me about scarcity value recently that I thought you might be interested in thinking about, if you haven’t already, which I think says something that might be important in how we think about Capitalism.

    I have listened to David Harvey’s podcasts of his lectures on Capital (which despite not having read Capital, I think I got something out of) and Harvey said that Marx said that anyone who finds themselves in the position of the Capitalist would behave the same way. It’s that materialism, I suppose. Material conditions dictate.

    Daily, in what I read, I hear about the tremendous differences in wealth and income now, and that Capitalists are greedy bastards. I have to tell you that I enjoy hearing capitalists referred to as greedy bastards.

    But I happened to recall some experiences I had as a child. You may have had a similar experience. You get a new toy or some other neat thing and take it to school for “show and tell,” and to show it off.

    It made you the center of attention. But then someone else got one, and it took some of the luster off yours. In other words, it lost some of its value.

    This could be why the rich not only want their fancy cars and yachts and private estates, but don’t want us to have them. If everyone had those things they’d not be so special, they would lose their value. Their scarcity value. This might help explain why Capital and its handmaidens in government are so intent on keeping us where we are if not in reducing to a third world living standard.

    Well, beyond that, as far as connecting what I say to value, I had these additional thoughts.

    Your toy, my toy, had value, but it was only in your head, if something with little or no actual value, something you picked up beside the road, say a pretty butterfly or a picture of a naked woman, had the same scarcity value. The value was an illusion, you might say.

    I suppose this would tend to put scarcity value over in the category of desire value. It is not connected to the labor value of the item.

    But to me, it would seem that Labor still creates value. Scarcity, or desire, just means that we will pay more (in costs that are set by the price of labor) to satisfy a psychological need.

    The labor still determines the value, and the price is determined differently.

    Well, I’m still working on getting that down, and this is all stuff that has been all hashed out by Marx and others, I think, and I hope to eventually understand it all better, but that’s how I came to my way of thinking about it, through my recent insights and listening to your podcast, for what it’s worth.

    I hope you continue with the audio podcasts. I am enjoying them.

    Sincerely,

    Frank Conway
    Albuquerque, NM

    .

  2. Hi Frank,

    Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate you taking the time to leave your comments. I agree with what you’ve said here about scarcity value and labor value, but I’d like to go one step further and say that I believe these two things to be intimately connected.

    I think a good example would be gold as a money commodity. It takes a certain amount of labor to “create” gold. It must be discovered, mined, and put into the shape of coins or some tradeable form. This all requires labor. If gold becomes very scarce, then it gets more value – but at the same time, this means that it takes more labor to find and “make” it.

    The example you give that involves us as children is particularly interesting because since children are not skilled laborers and generally do not have jobs and incomes the commodity world is very different for them. No matter how much labor time a five year old invests he probably cannot create the toy he desires, nor the nude photo he may desire. This leaves us with nothing less than supply and demand within the realm of the classroom. If we zoom out to the world at large, if one particular toy is scarce and sells at a higher rate because of it, a competing toy maker will likely devote more labor to making a similar toy which will create competition and drive the price down to yet another reflection of labor.

    In conclusion, I think you are right to distinguish price from value, but they are not entirely separate. Price can be pushed up and down but in the long run, if we have open competition, then prices will gravitate towards the labor required to produce them.

  3. tanuj says:

    Red salute from India comrade.Many young peoples are here keeping up with your podcast.

  4. tanuj says:

    Red greeting from India Comrade.We are keeping up with your podcast

  5. Robert F. Culmo says:

    Hey, Red. Over the summer I was a generally depressed teenager; I couldn’t really find anything that interested me or that I felt was worth my time.

    All of that basically ended when I came across your podcast. I found myself agreeing with pretty much all of the Marxist ways of looking at the world, that you described in simple terms, that I might not have gathered from just reading The Communist Manifesto or trying to plow through Capital by myself. Thanks to these videos, Marxism motivated me to read more and more, think more critically, connect the dots to certain topics, become a more vocal debater among friends, and develop better debating, reading, writing, and even critical thinking skills. I think this is because almost everyone disagrees with my Marxist opinion on things and I am encouraged to self-learn.

    In any case, these podcasts gave me something to else to do with what I really enjoy, which is reading, writing, thinking, and debating; doing all of those things with the guidance of a little Marx. That may sound a trifle bit nerdy, but that’s who I am, I guess!

    Long live the Revolution!

    -Bob

  6. Hi Bob,

    I really appreciate your comment. So much about our world today makes us feel like life is meaningless and the world is stupid. When I was a teenager I had a similar revelation when I stumbled upon what you might call “class conscious” punk music. Here were bands that sang about what was wrong with the world – and I agreed with them. Suddenly everything else seemed so much less important compared to the issues brought up in those songs.

    My sense of ethics ultimately drove me to study Marx, but finding that music really helped along the way. In fact, I know some of my peers who have followed similar paths, with punk music leading them to study Marx.

    Reading, thinking, writing, and debating are activities that many Marxists really enjoy – if they didn’t they might not have the energy/devotion to be a Marxist. Just like you mentioned Marxists are challenged all the time by the media, classmates, friends, and family. If you aren’t willing to put in some serious thought to the subject all that opposition can get to be too much. I guess what I’m trying to say is that lots of Marxists are kind of nerdy that way. They study hard to be informed because they have to be.

    Finally I just want to underscore the importance of sharing these ideas with others. It can help give meaning to my life individually, which makes me very happy with my life, but it also has a larger purpose. Our world is plagued by the ravages of capitalism’s irrationality. The labor of millions of unemployed people is squandered every day, children in third world countries are paid starvation wages so that companies like Nike can keep profits high, and the environment is trampled under because protecting it is not good for capitalism. This system just doesn’t make any sense, and it’s not working for the people who live on this planet. It’s about time we do better. The first step to do that is to talk about it, and that’s exactly what you are doing.

    In solidarity,

    Red

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